And here we go with the first Wyrd & Wonder prompt that struck my fancy! You can find the complete list HERE
Stand-alone books have become quite rare in fantasy: now its seems almost impossible to write a story in this genre that can be contained in a single volume and multi-book series have become the norm. Sometimes this is a wonderful thing, since it allows the authors to expand on their creations and to engage in delightful character growth, but other times it’s a curse – either because there are a LOT of sagas to keep abreast of and our TBRs are always filled beyond capacity, or because some of them expand into more books we can handle. Or again the authors make us wait far too long for the next book… (and yes, I’m looking straight at a certain writer right now, stamping my foot in sheer frustration).
Choosing some titles for this post has not been easy, because I’ve noticed that some of the series I’m following have gone beyond the three-volume mark required for this prompt, while I know nothing (yet) about others that would be perfect but I still have to read. So here are my choices, even though I’m sadly aware I’ve just skimmed the surface of this vast ocean…
J.R.R. TOLKIEN: THE LORD OF THE RINGS
Strictly speaking, this is not a trilogy, but rather a whole book divided into three sections (The Fellowships of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King), but the publishing “adventure” it underwent at the time somehow turned it into a trilogy, or rather THE trilogy. No need to expound on the story and characters, we all know what it’s about: it’s a classic in every meaning of the term and it has set many of the rules for modern fantasy, becoming the template for many of the works that followed.
Needless to say, this is and remains my favorite fantasy story, my very first foray into the genre, and the book I love to return to, now and then, to reconnect with the characters and the places that are forever engraved on my imagination. And my heart.
R.J. BARKER: THE WOUNDED KINGDOM
From the origins to the present: R.J. Barker’s debut work is one of the best fantasy works I have read, a story set in a tormented land where havoc has been wrought by the inconsiderate use of magic, to the point that mage-wielders are hunted and killed, their blood spilled on the ground to give back some of the life-force taken from it by the forces of magic. In the three books of this series – Age of Assassins, Blood of Assassins, King of Assassins – we follow the adventures of Girton Club-Foot, a young man who is being trained as a skilled assassin but is also trying to hide his magical abilities in a world where such discovery would cost him his life. Intense, powerful and poignant, this is a series everyone should read, and I dare you not to fall for either Girton or any of the amazing characters that people these books.
JULIET MARILLIER: BLACKTHORN AND GRIM
Of a totally different mood are the three books from Juliet Marlier that compose this saga: Dreamer’s Pool, Tower or Thorns and Den of Wolves were my first works from this author, but they will definitely not be the last. Blackthorn is an embittered woman whose husband and child have been killed in a fire caused by the local overlord, who later imprisoned her on a false accusation and condemned her to death. While languishing in prison she meets another inmate, the closemouthed Grim, and when both find a way out of the prison and away from the gallows, circumstances make an unlikely – but very compelling – pair as they try and fulfill the obligations set on them by their rescuer, a mysterious fae.
A poetic, poignant story that made me a fan of this author after a scant handful of chapters…
BRIAN McCLELLAN: POWDER MAGE
Before reading the first book in this series I had never heard of the term flintlock fantasy, but after a somewhat difficult start I fell in love with it and with this series set in a world vaguely reminiscent of 18th century Europe and starting with a bloody military coup with overtones of the French Revolution. Promise of Blood, The Crimson Campaign and The Autumn Republic follow the deeds of Field Marshal Tamas, bent on overthrowing the corrupt monarchy of Adro and establishing a new government. One of the most unusual elements of this saga is the use of gunpowder to enhance the skills of certain gifted individuals who enjoy better sight, improved strength and the ability to guide bullets toward their targets well beyond the limits imposed by ballistics.
It’s an imaginative, unique take on the usual fantasy themes, and one filled with great characters and awesome deeds: if you have not read it until now, know that you should, because it will prove to be worth of your time.
GREG VAN EEKHOUT: DANIEL BLACKLAND
I stumbled on this Urban Fantasy series almost by accident, but it was a very lucky one: the first book, California Bones, conquered me completely and I did not wait too long to read the two sequels, Pacific Fire and Dragon Coast. In this alternate version of our modern world, the political landscape is quite different and Southern California is a ruthlessly managed kingdom: any kind of magic employed here comes from the consumption of bones, especially those of the weird creatures that lived in this world’s past, like dragons and griffins and so on. Osteomancy, however, exposes its wielder to the greed of other practitioners of this magic, because the consumptions of another osteomancer’s bones gifts the… receiver with all the abilities taken on by the victim, which leads to some gruesome narrative threads.
This is a very different kind of story, and one that stands out because of this very uncommon element.